The 2017-18 NBA Season is closing in on one-third completed now. With at least 25 games in the books, The Ringer took a stab at the Top 25 players for the year so far. Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard made the cut, coming in 15th among the two dozen luminaries.
Staff Writer John Gonzalez explains Lillard’s ranking:
This is the part of the list where I take my leave. How is Lillard not higher? Russell Westbrook is the reigning MVP, and when the Ringer civil war starts, the ranks of the pro-Russ army will be strong. Fine. I get it. But it should be noted that Lillard’s team is having a better season than expected while Westbrook’s team most certainly is not. Lillard also has an edge on him in PER, TS percentage, and win shares. But again, fine. He’s Russ. Putting Al Horford ahead of Lillard? That’s just cruel. Horford isn’t even the best player on his own team (and if Gordon Hayward hadn’t gotten hurt, he wouldn’t be second best, either).
Though Gonzalez is obviously an ally, Blazers fans might take exception to the “better season than expected” part. The writer also cites Lillard’s rap prowess as a strong bolstering factor, which is all to the good.
Lillard sits nestled just above former teammate LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs, just below phenom Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. LeBron James and James Harden earned the first and second spots, respectively, with Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo rounding out the podium.